Most helpful positive review
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2010
Furst is a wonderful novelist within the espionage genre, different in approach to any others I have come across. You could say the plot is labyrinthine except that it could be argued the book is virtually plotless, written from the point of view of the protagonists who, of course, don't know much about what's going on. It's not the case of the writer developing an elaborate scenario which is sorted out one way or another towards the end - there usually is no such resolution in Furst's books; it is more like a painter dabbing tentatively at the canvas, occasionally doing something figurative and then disappearing into the abstract. A person sits in a cafe, catches the eye of someone else, is worried that he is being watched; this fleeting episode is never mentioned again and the reader, any more than the character, doesn't know at the end of the book whether it has been relevant to subsequent events. Uncertainty is not just the experience of the characters but the organising principle of the writing. To this is added a profoundly evocative treatment of pre-war and wartime Europe bolstered by reference to actual events and people and their refraction through the experience of individual characters.